If you’re orthodox like me, I can guarantee, you’ve already pulled out your handy dandy Jewish calendar to the months of September/October and made the grim calculation of how many vacation days you will have left once the holiday season passes.
By now you’ve likely also drafted that awkward email to your boss outlining the infinite number of religious holidays you’ve got lined up in the next few weeks and sprinkling phrases like “I won’t be accessible by email or phone” and “apologies for any inconvenience.” Yup, you will soon be using your vacation credits to pray, fast, eat, and sit in a makeshift hut in your backyard.
This year’s line-up includes: New Year – Monday/Tuesday; Fast of Atonement – random Wednesday; Holiday of the Huts – Monday/Tuesday/Monday/Tuesday.
To put it in perspective, every year I accumulate 15 vacation days. Every year I have 13 religious holidays. Luckily, my organization is kind enough to offer two days of ‘compassionate leave’ where I get to check off religious accommodation. Yes, it’s actually listed up there with bereavement. Either way, I’ll take all the sympathy I can get.
So that means to take time off for a real vacation I have to ask for unpaid, and for a twenty-something that’s a hit I’m not… (who am I kidding it’s a hit I’m totally willing to take). But I have to say it’s not the asking for unpaid vacation that makes me cringe. It’s asking for vacation, period.
I’ve been struggling with this vacation complex since the day I started my career. This complex comes in many forms. Once, during one of my holidays, I developed a wisdom tooth infection (nothing hurts like a toothache). After all my absences there was no way I was taking a sick day, so I showed up to work high off antibiotics and promptly scheduled my wisdom teeth surgery for the next statutory holiday. Speaking of sick days, I’ve accumulated about 30 over the last two years, because, well, I just don’t take any.
I’m also the first to volunteer to be around during Christmas, and I’m the only one around all summer long, so much so that I’m constantly being asked if I’m taking any time off. Oh no, not me. I’m busy saving up my days to go to synagogue. When I do ask for time off, I tend to keep it short. Last year we went all the way to Peru. We had the most amazing 6 days.
It’s not like anyone would care if I took a vacation. But I can’t shake the feeling of wanting to overcompensate for my sporadic absences where my colleagues are left to pick up the slack on my files just in time for me to return and leave again. Not to mention the early Fridays that last all winter long where I undoubtedly come across as the privileged one. You see, I’m almost always concerned about optics.
So you can imagine how awkward I felt asking for vacation time to go to a wedding abroad this November, merely a month after the holiday season ends. I’d like to think that the fact that I even asked shows I’ve come a long way. I may be an Orthodox yid with some peculiar scheduling demands, but what the heck, I still want to travel.
Till next time!
Sarit, the Working Yid